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The Young Charles Darwin

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

What sort of person was the young naturalist who developed an evolutionary idea so logical, so dangerous, that it has dominated biological science for a century and a half? How did the quiet and shy Charles Darwin produce his theory of natural selection when many before him had started down the same path but failed? This book is the first to inquire into the range of influences and ideas, the mentors and rivals, and the formal and informal education that shaped Charles Darwin and prepared him for his remarkable career of scientific achievement.

 

Keith Thomson concentrates on Darwins early life as a schoolboy, a medical student at Edinburgh, a theology student at Cambridge, and a naturalist aboard the Beagle on its famous five-year voyage. Closely analyzing Darwins Autobiography and scientific notebooks, the author draws a fully human portrait of Darwin for the first time: a vastly erudite and powerfully ambitious individual, self-absorbed but lacking self-confidence, hampered as much as helped by family, and sustained by a passion for philosophy and logic. Thomsons account of the birth and maturing of Darwins brilliant theory is fascinating for the way it reveals both his genius as a scientist and the human foibles and weaknesses with which he mightily struggled.

Review:

"At the time young Charles Darwin set out on his ground-breaking 1831 voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, he himself was an intelligent design supporter, saying he 'hardly ever admired a book more' than William Paley's Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity. Author and professor Thomson (Before Darwin: Reconciling God and Nature) delivers a lively account of how this naive young student became the iconoclastic bearer of 'the most dangerous idea of the past two hundred years.' The grandson of eminent free-thinker Erasmus Darwin as well as a medical and theology student, Darwin was well-versed in the 'raging controversy' over the origins of Earth and it inhabitants. The suggestion that 'life had arisen without God's intervention' was at the time 'almost unmentionable'; hotly debated topics included the frequency of God's intervention (a one-time event or an everyday thing?), and whether Earth's history is cyclical or progressive. Darwin's first and abiding love was natural history (his extensive beetle collection earned him his 'naturalist' position aboard the Beagle) and led to his era-defining theories. Drawing on his letters, diary entires and autobiographical work as well as his public intellectual struggles, Thomson's angle on Darwin's early life is fresh and vivid." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

What sort of person was the young naturalist who developed an evolutionary idea so logical, so dangerous, that it has dominated biological science for a century and a half? How did the quiet and shy Charles Darwin produce his theory of natural selection when many before him had started down the same path but failed? This book is the first to inquire into the range of influences and ideas, the mentors and rivals, and the formal and informal education that shaped Charles Darwin and prepared him for his remarkable career of scientific achievement.

Keith Thomson concentrates on Darwins early life as a schoolboy, a medical student at Edinburgh, a theology student at Cambridge, and a naturalist aboard the Beagle on its famous five-year voyage. Closely analyzing Darwins Autobiography and scientific notebooks, the author draws a fully human portrait of Darwin for the first time: a vastly erudite and powerfully ambitious individual, self-absorbed but lacking self-confidence, hampered as much as helped by family, and sustained by a passion for philosophy and logic. Thomsons account of the birth and maturing of Darwins brilliant theory is fascinating for the way it reveals both his genius as a scientist and the human foibles and weaknesses with which he mightily struggled.

About the Author

Keith Thomson is professor emeritus of natural history, University of Oxford, and senior research fellow, the American Philosophical Society. He is also the author of more than 200 scientific papers and twelve books. Thomson lives in Philadelphia.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780300136081
Author:
Thomson, Keith Stewart
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Author:
Thomson, Keith
Subject:
General History
Subject:
Evolution
Subject:
General
Subject:
Life Sciences - Evolution
Subject:
Scientists - General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Darwin, Charles
Subject:
Naturalists -- Great Britain.
Subject:
Science & Technology
Subject:
Biography-Scientists
Subject:
Biography & Autobiography : Scientists - General
Subject:
Science : History
Subject:
Science : Life Sciences - Evolution
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Cloth
Publication Date:
20090231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
5 b/w illus.
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 0.9 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Science and Technology
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Darwin Criticism
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Darwin

The Young Charles Darwin Used Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages Yale University Press - English 9780300136081 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "At the time young Charles Darwin set out on his ground-breaking 1831 voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, he himself was an intelligent design supporter, saying he 'hardly ever admired a book more' than William Paley's Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity. Author and professor Thomson (Before Darwin: Reconciling God and Nature) delivers a lively account of how this naive young student became the iconoclastic bearer of 'the most dangerous idea of the past two hundred years.' The grandson of eminent free-thinker Erasmus Darwin as well as a medical and theology student, Darwin was well-versed in the 'raging controversy' over the origins of Earth and it inhabitants. The suggestion that 'life had arisen without God's intervention' was at the time 'almost unmentionable'; hotly debated topics included the frequency of God's intervention (a one-time event or an everyday thing?), and whether Earth's history is cyclical or progressive. Darwin's first and abiding love was natural history (his extensive beetle collection earned him his 'naturalist' position aboard the Beagle) and led to his era-defining theories. Drawing on his letters, diary entires and autobiographical work as well as his public intellectual struggles, Thomson's angle on Darwin's early life is fresh and vivid." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , What sort of person was the young naturalist who developed an evolutionary idea so logical, so dangerous, that it has dominated biological science for a century and a half? How did the quiet and shy Charles Darwin produce his theory of natural selection when many before him had started down the same path but failed? This book is the first to inquire into the range of influences and ideas, the mentors and rivals, and the formal and informal education that shaped Charles Darwin and prepared him for his remarkable career of scientific achievement.

Keith Thomson concentrates on Darwins early life as a schoolboy, a medical student at Edinburgh, a theology student at Cambridge, and a naturalist aboard the Beagle on its famous five-year voyage. Closely analyzing Darwins Autobiography and scientific notebooks, the author draws a fully human portrait of Darwin for the first time: a vastly erudite and powerfully ambitious individual, self-absorbed but lacking self-confidence, hampered as much as helped by family, and sustained by a passion for philosophy and logic. Thomsons account of the birth and maturing of Darwins brilliant theory is fascinating for the way it reveals both his genius as a scientist and the human foibles and weaknesses with which he mightily struggled.

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